Star power in Spa City

Paul Newman was in Saratoga Springs last week.

He wasn't there as the actor or the face behind the salad dressing, but to encourage financial support for the Double H Ranch, a camp for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses that he helped found in 1993.

Newman came to The Lodge in Saratoga Springs to assist the camp's staff in kicking off a $15 million endowment campaign.

\Things happen, said New-man of how the Double H came to be a reality. "You get a phone call. It was Charley Wood and he said, 'I'll put in a million if you put in a million.' And that was it.

"Both of us recognize how lucky we are and what terrible mortality is with these kids with life-threatening diseases," said Newman. "When they come to a camp like this, they are not different."

Morgan McCarthy, 11, of Saratoga Springs was on hand for Newman's visit. Currently in her third season as a camper, McCarthy agreed that having the camp well staffed with trained doctors, nurses and counselors allows her to relax and have fun.

"I like having the same experience as average kids. It's always nice to come to a place where they know what they're doing and know how to handle it," said McCarthy. Friendly and engaging, McCarthy spoke candidly about the illness that brings her to camp.

"I have cerebral palsy," she said, noting that it affects her legs and fingers. "I can do most things that any other human can do. It just needs to be changed a little."

McCarthy noted that her illness also provides her with abilities that no one else has.

"I can pop my finger out of its socket. See!" she said.

McCarthy and other campers who qualify to attend spend one week each summer at the camp. Campers can be referred by their doctors, hospitals, social workers, other campers, or their own family members. The Double H Ranch serves about 1,000 children each year at an estimated cost of about $1,500 per child. The camp absorbs all costs with the child and their family being responsible only for the transportation to and from camp.

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